Thursday, November 29, 2007

Wild views from the Parkway

This is a nice view of Looking Glass Rock from the Blue Ridge Parkway, near Brevard. It is also near a lot of little streams full of wild trout and is not much of a drive to some other rivers that have stocked trout and special regulations, like Delayed Harvest and Catch and Release at the North Mills River and the Davidson River.
Recent rains have helped the low-water situation, but we are still far behind what it should be. You can still cross most of these little creeks without getting the tops of your socks wet, but the water is now getting too cold for wet wading, and I reluctantly took out the old waders last week for some fun on the North Fork of the French Broad and some secret places. I hooked a nice rainbow with a BWO dry but lost him after a brief battle during a steady afternoon drizzle that finally chased me under the bridge.
Did better on the little water, still with a dry fly. Caught some pretty rainbows that were lit up like holiday decorations but nothing of any size. Perhaps this week?

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Wild day on the North Mills River

Well, the colors are beginning to fade into our memories of the fall of 2007, with the mountains looking more like piles of rusting cannon balls instead of bowls of colorful jellybeans.
In spots, to be sure, the color still dazzles. The ride to Asheville over Saluda Mountain is awesome with sparkling reds and golds lining the highway. I wonder why there are not more accidents since the display is definitely distracting. At my cabin near the Blue Ridge Parkway, the maple in the front yard turned golden, then barren, within one week's time. It actually looks a little ragged, like something has chewed and scratched the branches bare.
Across the street, I found one lone maple leaf, standing out like a gleaming ruby in a pile of rock.
It's a pretty time of year. It's also unseasonably warm, and I have tried to make the best of the nice days to get to some new trout streams like at the end of the paved road along the North Mills River. I found a peaceful, mirror-smooth pool where you have to ford the creek or turn around, and the fish were sipping midges off the glassy surface with some regularity, though I never actually saw any midges fluttering in the air.
I used long, sometimes graceful, casts and let the fly settle quietly amid the rise rings. Then, I watched the fly slowly float over the fish while I took in all the scenery, the magnificent red oaks towering overhead with just enough foliage left to give the sunlight a reddish tint. The air smelled crisp and clean. My mind wandered...
Then, there was a splash, I jerked awake to discover I had a trout on the end of my line and I brought him in to admire. Before I was finished at the pool - it was the only place I fished for two hours - I caught two browns, two rainbows and four brook trout, all apparently stockers except for the brightly-dressed browns.
Funny thing, fishermen passed by, stopped to look and kept going all the time I was there. They all said they had been having little luck.
I smiled.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Wild little hybrid trout

This is called a Tiger Trout, I believe. Caught this little guy in a creek near the blue ridge parkway this summer. I have never seen anything like it but I am told it is a hybrid of Brook and Brown trout. It had some interesting colors, with red-tipped fins and a little butter yellow on its belly. Pretty little thing. Too bad they are sterile, so I probably won't ever catch another.

Wild thing tries to grab Mrs. Koontz

Is this the wooden creature from below? Or is just the biggest, baddest, twistingnest vine I have ever seen.
We found it along the Davidson River last week. Kinda spooky.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Wild-looking rock church

Well, I really wanted to try and catch a few trout - I could spot the rings on the water's surface as we crossed a bridge - but Mrs. Koontz and I didn't have that much time to tarry, so we instead took a little hike beside the Davidson River to check out the little Methodist church adjacent to one of the campgrounds. The church was built with rocks from their surrounding area and is open each Sunday at 9:30 a.m. for services, mostly for the campers.
There's more to the story, but the builders managed to spell out English Chapel with some of the rock, which they installed over the front entrance.
We saw a really huge vine by the path also. It was curved interestingly enough to make a perfect seat for tired hikers.
It was a nice day with a gentle breeze tossing falling leaves around like butterflies in the air. There was still some color left in the trees, but it's going fast further up the mountain.
I don't have any idea how good the fishing was Sunday, and I only spent a half hour Saturday fishing a couple of my favorite spots. The trout were out.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Happy birthday Marine Corps

Marine Corps Birthday: (excerpt from Warrior Culture of the U.S. Marines, copyright 2001 Marion F. Sturkey)

All U.S. Marines are gung-ho. But, few can match the vision and total commitment of the famous 13th Commandant, Gen. John A. Lejeune. In 1921 he issued Marine Corps Order No. 47, Series 1921.

Gen. Lejeune's order summarized the history, mission, and tradition of the Corps. It further directed that the order be read to all Marines on 10 November of each year to honor the founding of the Marine Corps. Thereafter, 10 November became a unique day for U.S. Marines throughout the world.

Soon, some Marine commands began to not only honor the birthday, but celebrate it. In 1923 the Marine Barracks at Ft. Mifflin, Pennsylvania, staged a formal dance. The Marines at the Washington Navy Yard arranged a mock battle on the parade ground. At Quantanamo Bay, Cuba, the Marine baseball team played a Cuban team and won, 9 to 8.

The first "formal" Birthday Ball took place on Philadelphia in 1925. First class Marine Corps style, all the way! Guests included the Commandant, the Secretary of War (in 1925 the term "politically correct" didn't exist; it was Secretary of War, not Secretary of Defense), and a host of statesmen and elected officials. Prior to the Ball, Gen. Lejeune unveiled a memorial plaque at Tun Tavern. Then the entourage headed for the Benjamin Franklin Hotel and an evening of festivities and frolicking.

Over the years the annual Birthday Ball grew and grew, taking on a life of its own. In 1952 the Commandant, Gen. Lemuel C. Shepherd Jr., formalized the cake-cutting ceremony and other traditional observances. For example, Marine Corps policy now mandates that the first piece of cake must be presented to the oldest U.S. Marine present. The second piece goes to the youngest Marine. Among the many such mandates is a solemn reading of the Commandant's birthday message to the Corps.

Like the U.S. Marine Corps itself, the annual Birthday Ball has evolved from simple origins to the polished and professional functions of today. Nonetheless, one thing remains constant, the tenth day of November! This unique holiday for warriors is a day of camaraderie, a day to honor Corps and Country. Throughout the world on 10 November, U.S. Marines celebrate the birth of their Corps -- the most loyal, most feared, most revered, and most professional fighting force the world has ever known.

*and God bless Chesty Puller

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Looking for a wild weekend fishin'

Reports I have seen call for water temperatures around 40 to 42 degrees this week. The forecast is for sunny, fairly warm weather in the 60s or high 50s, so that's good enough for me to wet a line, perhaps in the North Mills River or the DH water on the East Fork of the FB. At least the colors will still be sparkling and I may even catch a trout.
Last weekend did not do much of anything, except for those two little brown trout I caught near the bridge in my neighborhood.

Monday, November 5, 2007

Wild trout streams come alive with rain

The water was still up and in good fishable condition this past weekend (Nov. 3/4/5) but I did not get out for more than just a few minutes Saturday.
Scared some wild rainbows sipping midges off the surface, then moved downstream on the North Fork of the French Broad and nailed a couple of browns with a No. 16 caddis.
The water was cold and I put on the waders for the first time since March. The sun ripped through the orange/red/yellow trees and felt good on my face.
I heard the North Mills River along the Delayed Harvest section was good during the week, but I had horrible luck trying to fish it on a Saturday a couple weekends ago. It was crowded and the water got hammered.
The East Fork of the FB continues to draw hordes of well-equipped fly fishermen. Too many people on the weekends but still not as crowded as North Mills.
On the plus side, the foliage at North Mills was incredibly beautiful the end of October, but I didn't catch much.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Wild streams full again

Well, it has been awhile since there was much water in the neighborhood's trout streams. But the recent rain changed all that. Shame I hardly had a chance to wet a line. I spent most of the weekend running errands and trying out the new troutmobile after junking the old one, and then the brake's on Mrs. Koontz's Shopmobile gave out.
Sunday, close to dark, I tied on a big Adams parachute with a bright calftail post for easy visibility and hooked and lost a bunch of little wild rainbows. The one fish I actually landed was foul-hooked, and there is no honor in that.
The previous weekend I spent a good portion of Saturday on the North Mills. The fall colors were magnificent ... like fishing in church with the sun's rays cutting through overhanging trees bright as stained glass.
It was pretty, the water was still low and there was a flyfisherman for every trout. I elbowed my way past a couple, threw a elkhair caddis onto the water and hooked just one trout. It was my first time there on the North Mills, a Delayed Harvest river, so I spent most of the time out of the water just wandering around, kicking up leaves and breathing in the wonderful air. It was a good day.
My wife had my camera, but I got some good shots on the East Fork of the French Broad, another Delayed Harvest stream, the previous weekend. I slayed em with dries there one day and got skunked the the very same spot fishing over the very same obstinate trout. Go figure.
My little home creek should be good this Saturday. Perhaps I will have it to myself.